Lowering Your Stress for a Healthy Heart
Everyone knows that February is National Heart Health Month, and a really great way to improve your heart health is by lowering your stress. But of course that’s easier said than done. Women are more likely to report feeling stressed out than men and nearly half of all women say that their stress has increased in the last four years. While we can’t deal with that annoying co-worker or take care of your many household responsibilities (we really wish we could!), we do have some tips to help you better lower and manage the stress in your life.
- Consider the sources of your stress. If you are always stressed out about cleaning your house, would it be possible to pay someone to clean your house each week? Or could you minimize certain areas of your home to make cleaning easier? While you may not be able to get rid of all your sources of stress, evaluating what is causing you stress and making changes if possible can make a big impact in lowering your overall stress levels.
- Care for yourself like you do others. If a child or grandchild was sick or a friend injured themselves, you are the type of person who would drop everything to take care of them. However, when it comes to your own health, it can be easier to push things off and procrastinate. Find time to fill your own cup and be kind to yourself more.
- Accept help when you need it. We often think we can be superwoman and do it all, but there’s only one of us and 24 hours in every day. We often need help with all the items on our to-do list, but it can be hard to hand over control. Whether it’s asking a friend or relative for help or getting your husband or child(ren) to help more (even if they don’t do it the “right” way), ask and accept help when you are overloaded. Your heart will thank you for it!
- Get regular physical activity. Exercise raises endorphins and boosts your mood. Getting your blood pumping with physical activity is great for your heart, but a bonus is that it can help your stress levels too.
- Spend time with loved ones. We know, we know, you have so much on your plate, and it can be hard to find the time. However, spending time with your loved ones can be very beneficial for your mental health and can be a way to make time for yourself to have fun.
- Eat healthy and mindfully. Eating real foods like fruits and veggies instead of processed food and drinking lots of water help to give you energy and feel more like yourself. Mindful eating is paying attention to your food and your body when you’re full or hungry.
- Try to look on the bright side. We know life can be very stressful, and it can be hard to be optimistic sometimes. However, looking on the bright side and practicing gratitude can help you to truly feel more happy and less stressed.
Managing the Urge to Smoke
Along with managing your stress, exercising, and eating healthy, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart health (and your health overall). However, if you’re a smoker, you know quitting isn’t easy. Afterall, you are addicted to the nicotine in the cigarettes and managing those cravings can seem impossible. We have some of our top tips on how to manage those cravings and ditch cigarettes for good.
- Get support. Having a trusted friend or family member, especially someone who’s been in your shoes, can really help you on your journey to quit smoking. If you don’t have someone to turn to, you can turn to apps, social media, or experts at the National Cancer Institute Quitline (1-877-448-7848).
- Know your why. You likely want to quit smoking for a specific reason—whether it’s for a loved one or yourself. In those moments you want to give in to your craving, tune into those reasons and remind yourself how important they are to you.
- Stay busy. Sometimes you just need to distract yourself from your craving. Chewing gum, going for a walk or job, taking deep breaths, or doing a good deed for someone else are all great ways to distract yourself.
- Go to a smoke free zone. If you have others around you who smoke, it can be really easy to give in. In those moments, it might be a good idea to go to a public place—a mall, restaurant, store, or other place—that doesn’t allow smoking.
- Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy if necessary. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re still struggling, you may want to look into nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Short acting options include lozenges or gums, and long acting options would be something like a patch.
- Don’t give up. Whatever you do, don’t give up on your journey to quit smoking. We know it can be difficult, but your health is worth it!
Date Night Flaky Crab Cakes
- 2 tablespoons plain whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon canola mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 8 ounces lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons canola oil
- Place first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Add crab; toss gently to combine. Chill crab mixture in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Divide crab mixture into 4 equal portions. With moist hands, gently shape each portion into a 1-inch-thick patty.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add butter; swirl until butter melts. Add oil; swirl to coat. Carefully add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until crab cakes are golden brown and done.